One of the most expensive countries in Europe Switzerland is often skipped over by budget travelers.
Visiting Switzerland is not cheaper. Before you even get out of the train station/airport, you’ll begin to wonder “how the heck did I spend so much money already?!”
Even when I was backpacking Switzerland, I found myself constantly trying to find ways to save money.
Yet, while it is not a cheap destination, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The country is home to shimmering lakes, picturesque mountains (hello Alps!), tiny walled medieval towns, soaring peaks, endless green fields you want to run through, delicious chocolate, icnredible beer, and friendly, welcoming people.
Everything runs on time here, the country is safe, and everyone is super nice. I loved my time traveling around Switzerland.
The country rocks no matter what time of the year you visit (summer hiking, winter skiing).
To help lower your costs, use this travel guide to Switzerland to help you plan your trip and save money!
1.Things to do and travel
a. Fasnacht Spring Carnival
This festival in Basel is a three-day party that welcomes in the warm weather and takes place annually on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. It’s something that’s highly anticipated by both tourists and locals, and it’s definitely Switzerland’s most popular festival. Fasnächtlers dress in elaborate costumes to hide their identities and parade around town with “cliques” (bands playing basler drums and piccolos). All the bars and restaurants in town remain open throughout the entire three days. Everyone here is in a good mood!
b. Rhine Falls
Pack a picnic lunch and look out at your view of Europe’s largest waterfall. If you hop on a boat tour you can get extra close to the giant rock in the middle of the falls, and you’ll also experience the Rhine Falls Basin. Nearby in the town of Schaffhausen, you’ll find a medieval castle which also houses a hostel for cheap but interesting accommodations.
As the third largest city in Switzerland, Geneva offers spectacular views of the city’s lake (Lake Geneva), the world’s largest fountain, the UN, a historic city center, and a collection of international restaurants to satisfy anyone’s palate (thanks to the UN buildings in town). While you’re here make sure you check out the Geneva’s Art and History Museum or the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum. There are 40 museums here in total!
d. St. Gallen
The seventh largest city in Switzerland, St. Gallen boasts beautiful museums, colorful murals, and one-of-a-kind architecture. It doesn’t receive as much tourist traffic as the other cities and regions around the country, but it’s a fun town full of students and you’re likely to befriend a few locals during your visit. Must-do: visit the Baroque cathedral and the Abbey Library, which is home to nearly 170,000 documents. Some are hand-written and over a thousand years old!
e. Visit the Old Villages
Visit the Graubunden area of the country, where you’ll find villages with houses dating back to the 13th century. Here they also speak an ancient language called Romanch, which has died out everywhere else in the country and the locals take great pride in keeping the tradition alive. Of course, it’s a haven for nature lovers – there are 615 lakes and 150 valleys in the region. Visiting here is a true Swiss Alpine experience.
f. Romantic time in Montreux
With a picturesque castle (Chateau de Chillo) lying at the edge of a lake, this area makes for a pretty romantic destination. Tour the castle, which dates all the way back to the 12th century and inspired the likes of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, and more. The town was also the home of Freddie Mercury and there is a statue here in his honor. It costs 12.50 CHF ($12.55 USD) to visit the castle.
g. Rural culture in Appenzell
This small village of 7,000 lies in the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden. There are no cars and the village has upheld much of its local traditions and culture, including dance and folk music. It’s an incredibly picturesque little town, with frescoed buildings and narrow alleyways. Its location near the foot of the Alpstein mountains makes it a great gateway for participating in summer and winter outdoor activities, like hiking and skiing. Take the Appenzell Railway to Wasserauen, and explore the fascinating prehistoric Wildkirchli caves (inhabited around 40,000 years ago).
h. Visit Lucerne
You can’t get much more of a typical Swiss destination than Lucerne. Located on the beautiful Lucerne Lake, the city offers a wonderful combination of urban life and nature. Spend some time in the old town, especially Weinmarkt, surrounded by medieval guildhalls and decorative buildings. Cross Chapel Bridge, the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge, and pay attention to the 17th-century ceiling paintings showing events from Lucerne’s history.